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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Mark Damazer and "Clashes"

Mark Damazer is stepping down as head of Radio Four, after what appears to be a successful period. The most impressive thing I heard about Damazer concerned his chairing of a regular Radio Four meeting called "Clashes". At this he looked at the plans of the scores of different programmes and decided which of them could "have" various different topics. It stands to reason. There's only so much ether and only so many ideas that can be floating around in it at any given time. When it's Christmas or the Olympics is coming up, when there's a big story going around, every speech programme wants to have a piece of it. "Clashes" is the meeting at which they decide who's allowed to have what story. From what I hear, and if this is not the case I don't want to know, Damazer doesn't encourage discussion (probably because he knows it's not going to lead anywhere) and just allots subjects to programmes in the briskest possible fashion. "You and Yours can have that. Front Row can do that. In Business can have that. The Book Programme can interview her. A Good Read can have him as a guest. Loose Ends can't. Next." And so on. It sounds like a very satisfying way to pass half an hour. I love a good Chair. Somebody told me that when Paul Myners was the Chairman of the Guardian Media Group every meeting started and finished on time, no matter what was being discussed. A very rare skill.